Ipso Gallery at Fresh Produce is a really special space for all of us. We opened the doors to Ipso Gallery in 2009, after we moved our offices from Brandon to downtown Sioux Falls. As a creative agency, we like to explore concepts and ideas outside of client work, and Ipso has given us a lot of room to do that. Ipso Gallery has Liz Heeren at the helm as Gallery Director/Curator, and the Fresh Produce crew assist in concept, design, production, and promotion. It’s a great, thrilling team effort that allows us to throw a big party five times a year. 2018 was a pretty standout year for us — we raised over $10,000 for a local arts entity during our art lottery-fundraiser show, invited two very talented Wisconsin-based artists to our space, exhibited an all three-dimensional sculpture show by three really good friends, hosted Mystic October Series No. 2 with John Banasiak, and ended the year with a bang with Cake Parade.
“The effort is always to bring something new and interesting to Sioux Falls where people can come experience art in its various forms.”
Before we announce our 2019 run of shows, let’s look at the year (accompanied by words from our conversation with Liz and promo art by Fresh Produce).
Lucky Number is something we’ve done repeatedly. It is an effort that brings a lot of people together where we raise money for a particular arts entity. This year we were raising funds for BronzeAge Art Casting, which is also fondly known as The Foundry in Sioux Falls. When we put these shows together, it involves generosity on a lot of people’s parts. A sponsor comes in at $1,000 to sponsor the show and to help raise money for the organization, but artists also donate $1,000 worth of art. The sponsorship is split in half. Half of it goes to the artist, and then half goes to the arts organization that we’re raising money. This year we were able to get a total of 19 artists involved, which was 19 total sponsorships, but 27 individuals and businesses came together to support The Foundry this year. We raised over $10,000 for The Foundry, which is a big deal. The Foundry is an important asset in our community as we continue to grow SculptureWalk, the but only thing of its kind in South Dakota really for sculptors who want to do any type of foundry work.
Our goal is always to touch base with, reach out to maintain ties with South Dakotans. When they are here, go to school here, grew up here, they had a period of time in this common place that we all celebrate. We try to keep track of them as they leave our state and may go other places. Many of our artists are local, but some of them end up in Wisconsin, for example. Andres Torres did and he brought in Chris Bostwick with him (his friend and artist from Madison, WI). We decided to couple those two together, to take our South Dakota connection and allow him to inform us of another complementary artist that would be otherwise a little bit out of our reach.
Glyph was a natural addition to what we were doing in 2018. We knew we wanted to raise money for The Foundry, and we wanted to showcase art as well that was being made through them. We happened to be connected to three artists who are utilizing The Foundry often — Sarah Cherrington, David Lethcoe, and Cameron Stalheim. It turns out all three of them went to USD. All three of them are buddies. All three of them trying to make a living as artists in Sioux Falls. The connection was even tighter really than I think we anticipated. What ended up happening when we look at the show is we see their connections, the aesthetic connections, or the educational connections that have maybe led them to where they are now. We also see separation, deviations from one another, going in ways that are highly cerebral, very refined, humorous at times, each of them taking their own path through these common techniques, common media. [Promo art designed by Famous 2018, our summer internship program. Read more here.]
John Banasiak is kind of legendary. He’s unique to our state in that he’s an artist who’s been here for 30 plus years, working hard, doing great work, and exhibiting internationally. Sometimes I think he’s under the radar a little bit because he’s situated down in Vermillion. But, certainly anybody who has gone through USD or who is a practicing artist in South Dakota knows of John Banasiak and connects him almost solely to photography. He teaches photography at USD. I was able to find out through Cory Knedler, the department head at USD, that John was working on a body of art that was three-dimensional. I was immediately feverishly trying to contact John because I really wanted to feature that kind of work in the gallery, something very different that he’s doing, a departure from his previous practices. Luckily, he was completely game. Nobody is more prolific than John Banasiak. He brought in 25 assemblages, and they were meticulous, cryptic, and symbolic, and highly mystical, perfect for a Mystic October show. Every woven component of each sculpture had parts relating to other parts and very precise, thoughtful placement that spelled out, again, cryptic narratives. I think that’s why people responded so much to these pieces.
Cake Parade was this conglomeration of thought and brewing in the brain that happened over about 10 years where we thought, “Well, how do we bring art and cake together? There’s got to be a formula.” There were ideas like throwing cake off of buildings and having it performance art style. There were tons of reasons why that didn’t happen. Eventually Cake Parade came out of this want to connect the public to an experience that wasn’t just visual, that took them, transported them through memory and association, and through another whole different set of senses, which is taste, smell, to create this coalescing effect of the visual, the tactile, the taste, the scent to become a complete artistic experience.
“There were ideas like throwing cake off of buildings and having it performance art style. There were tons of reasons why that didn’t happen.”
We did it by pairing an individual artist and an individual baker, five sets of those, so five artists, five bakers total, and asked them to meet one another, discuss their interests with one another. After that meeting, which was probably brief, each of them had to create a work of art that was inspired by the other. Obviously, there were a lot of unknowns about this. We didn’t know what the product would be. It takes an unusual departure from artists normal way of workings. We didn’t know exactly what visual products were going to come out of this, nor did we have any clue how a baker would interpret an artist’s work and then fuse that with their culinary experiences.
What’s great about Cake Parade is that everybody loves cake, people really love to look at art, and we’re bringing these two things together in a way that we knew would attract the community. We knew people would want to come to this, and they did. We had a lot of people, 262 tickets. That’s 262 individual slices of cake, plus more, people came back for seconds, given away at Cake Parade. A lot of the things about this show that we were trying to touch on elevated the cake as an art form, as it would be considered as a sculpture or as a whole artistic experience. I think having it in the gallery alongside visual art actually accomplished that on a lot of levels.